These animals are family pets carefully screened by professionals as to suitability for the program.
Using animals as therapeutic tools has gained widespread acceptance over the past decade. In addition to anecdotal observations there are now a multitude of studies showing the benefits of using animals in the therapeutic treatment of people in long term and acute care, correctional facilities, palliative care and psychiatric units. Pet therapy can also play a strong role in the treatment of people recovering from stroke, cardiovascular events and brain injury. Animals are also used in speech therapy and literacy programs. The list of applications for animal assisted therapy keeps growing.
One of the most frequently questions asked is what type of dog is appropriate for PALS. PALS dogs are typically well-socialized, happy dogs. They must like people and get along well with other animals including cats. Size, breed and energy level are not important. Our smallest is less than five pounds and our largest tips the scales at over 150 pounds. PALS accepts mixed breeds as well as purebred animals. Some of our dogs are very quiet while others are quite active.
Obedience training is not mandatory, however, the dog must have manners and be under control. Basic commands such as sit, down and heel are particularly important for the larger/stronger breeds. Dogs must be accepting of being touched/handled on all parts of their bodies. They should also be comfortable in new situations and recover well when surprised.
The minimum age for dogs is one year. Dogs weighing less than 22.5 kg (50 lbs) must be younger than 10 years old on the date of screening. Dogs weighing more than 22.5 kg (50 lbs) must be younger than 8 years old on the date of screening. Dogs with medical conditions may be accepted into the program; however, PALS will excuse any dog if it is felt that its physical comfort or health might be compromised during PALS activities.
The typical cat is a solitary creature that is most comfortable within its own territory. The typical PALS cat is social and adapts well to new surroundings, likes people and stays around when you have company over. They enjoy human contact and are quite willing to be held in any manner.
They must be accepting of a leash and harness, although they are not required to "walk on lead". In fact many of our feline visitors enjoy some rather unique means of transportation when visiting. Some even have their own wheelchairs!
The minimum age for cats is one year. Cats must be less than 7 years old on the date of screening. Cats with medical conditions may be accepted into the program; however, PALS will excuse any cat if it is felt that its physical comfort or health might be compromised during PALS activities.
Appropriate Feline Attire:For our feline volunteers we strongly urge the owner to have a collar and harness on their cat when they come for both the Interview and the Pet Screening. We also urge them to bring their cat into the interview/ screening room in a carrier. Because it is a strange environment for the cat, and at the time of the Pet Screening the room will be full of untested animals - mostly dogs - a cat who is carried in without the aforementioned "control" devices might freak out. Of course, a freaked-out kitty becomes a ball of teeth and claws, making it very hard to control him (mostly for the purpose of ensuring his safety).
If your cat is not used to wearing a collar or a harness, we advise you to introduce your cat to these items, first a collar and then a harness. Be sure that you have a cat-style harness rather than a dog-style (a cat's bone-structures is quite different from that of a dog). The first time you put a harness on your cat, he might look like he is trying to turn himself inside out, but most cats adjust quite well after an initial protest period. It would probably help if the cat associates something happy (like getting a treat) with wearing the harness.
Rabbits are one of our most popular visitors as they are both non-threatening and soft. They are tested to ensure they do not use their back legs, nails or teeth and tolerate handling without becoming stressed.
The minimum age for rabbits is one year. Cats must be less than 5 years old on the date of screening. Rabbits with medical conditions may be accepted into the program; however, PALS will excuse any rabbit if it is felt that its physical comfort or health might be compromised during PALS activities.
PALS Guinea Pigs and Ferrets
Guinea pigs, like rabbits, are popular with all the people we visit. Ferrets, while not for everyone, have a strong following of devotees. All of these species are tested to see if they will use their nails or teeth.
The minimum age for these species is one year. They must be less than 5 years old on the date of screening. Guinea pigs and ferrets with medical conditions may be accepted into the program; however, PALS will excuse the pet if it is felt that its physical comfort or health might be compromised during PALS activities.
Please contact the PALS office at 250-7257 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org